What can we learn from Robin Williams’ estate plan?

Robin Williams’ family legal feud has been in the headlines this past month. It is a sad and cautionary tale.


After Robin Williams’ tragic suicide in August 2014, generic cialis try the family is at odds in a very public family battle over his estate.


Robin Williams’ estate plan was set forth in a trust.  Typically, cialis a trust provide a private mechanism for handling one’s final affairs.  Unfortunately, viagra that is not the case for the Williams’ family.  Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Williams, has asked the court for clarification.  The marriage is less than three years old.   According to media reports, the dispute centers on personal property. Robin Williams’ widow was provided a life estate in a home in Tiburon, California. Robin Williams and Susan Williams resided in the house in Tiburon, California. Robin Williams also owned a house in Napa, California.  Robin Williams’ three children from prior marriages were left personal property, including jewelry, clothing, memorabilia and awards from the entertainment industry.  Susan Williams is asking the court to exclude the contents of the Tiburon house from the jewelry, clothing, memorabilia and awards from the entertainment industry left to the children.  It has also been alleged that Susan Williams is seeking clarification as to whether Robin Williams’ watch collection is included in the category of jewelry. Susan Williams alleges that the watches were viewed as a prized “collection,” rather than merely as jewelry.


Generally, a court will find that specific language controls over general language.  That means that the children most likely will receive the jewelry.


The court, in deciding whether the watch collection is jewelry, most likely, will consult a dictionary.  If a watch is defined as a timepiece typically worn on one’s wrist and jewelry is defined as a decorative object that people wear on their body, the watch collection is jewelry.


All parties to the dispute (the widow and the three children) most likely have sufficient assets to fund the cost of the attorneys battling in the court. The cost of the challenge mean that attorney fees will run in the tens of thousands of dollars. The average person can’t afford such a high cost.


It has also been reported that the trustee has not been able to conduct a complete inventory of the items in the Tiburon house.


If your will or trust was drafted by an attorney, you should have had the opportunity to decide if the will or trust referenced a list of personal tangible property. Such a list provides an opportunity to leave items to a named individual.


A will or trust can also specify that things are divided based on some rotational basis. This is often referred to as “coffee table probate.”


Thank goodness, the children received both the clothing and entertainment memorabilia, or the parties would be arguing which category the iconic suspenders from Mork & Mindy fit into.


What lessons can be drawn from this public saga?


The trust should have required mediation before anyone could file a pleading in court.   Moreover, the trust should have clearly stated how the mediator was chosen and the penalties for failure to resort to mediation.


Never underestimate greed.


An estate plan must be drafted with specificity, clarity and precision.


Nanu nanu.


If you have any questions regarding a will or trust, Dean Law Office can assist you. Call Margaret Dean at 816-753-3100.

If you fall on the job, will it be covered under workers’ compensation?

In Missouri workers’ compensation, viagra usa search an individual would think that if they fell while on the job, his or her injury would be covered under workers’ compensation. This is not necessarily the case. Missouri law was changed in 2005, and the adverse results of the changes are not favorable to workers injured on the job.

The first case to address the 2005 changes as they related to a work accident was Miller v. Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission. Mr. Miller, a MODOT worker, was repairing a section of road. Mr. Miller was walking briskly on the job site when his knee popped. Mr. Miller was denied workers’ compensation.

In Johme v. St. John’s Mercy Care, Ms. Johme was turning to make coffee and her heel slipped off the back of her sandals. She fell, fracturing her hip. Ms. Johme was denied workers’ compensation.

In both the Miller case and the Johme case, the court, in denying workers’ compensation, stated that the risk involved was one to which the worker would have been equally exposed in non-employment life.

In cases where a worker has fallen and recovered after 2005, one can see a pattern. There is a emphasis on weather conditions, the type of footwear the employee is wearing, what the employee is doing at the time of the fall, and what the employee is carrying.

Before completing an accident report or giving a statement, an employee should think long and hard about what caused a fall. Was the risk, one to which he or she would be equally exposed in life outside the work place?

Margaret E. Dean can consult with you at no charge prior to the time you file an accident report or give a statement. If you have questions in these areas, Dean Law Office can assist you.

Call Margaret E. Dean, 816-753-3100.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law refers to a legal practice that emphasizes wills, cialis generic recipe trusts, viagra buy patient estate planning, and probate, trust administration, Medicaid planning (in Missouri, Medicaid is referred to as MoHealthNet, in Kansas, Medicaid is referred to as KanCare), guardianships and conservatorships.

If you have questions in these areas, Dean Law Office can assist you. Call Margaret E. Dean, 816-753-3100.